November 5, 2013

Night Before the Race: New York City Marathon

This year, like every other time I’ve run the New York City Marathon, I’ll be writing my recap in multiple posts. This marathon is too amazing for me not to share every single detail! But this year, unlike every other time I’ve run the New York City Marathon, I will be actually completing the multiple posts, instead of just leaving you hanging. Hooray! (And in bonus good news, I just found a whole bunch of almost-complete-but-never-published race reports on my old 2009 netbook, so perhaps you’ll even get the 2009 and 2010 New York City Marathon race reports sometime soon.)

The festivities really began on Friday evening, when Adam’s flight landed at JFK. Adam and I both started blogging around the same time in 2007, and our comments on each other’s blogs turned into texts and Gchats… but six years later, despite near-daily interactions, we had still never met! He’s met (real life) friends of mine at races, and I’ve met friends of his in my travels, but we had never actually met in person – which seemed so weird given what a great friend he is. This weekend, we were finally going to change that.

One of the things that I didn’t love about my world record finish / 50th state was that it was far from home, so it was tough for a lot of my friends/family to get there – we settled for celebrating virtually, and then I had a second party in New York City about a month later. But for New York City Marathon, so many of my friends were already here and it was also reasonably close to my family’s homes in upstate New York. Having Adam running the race too seemed especially fitting and perfect, like truly everyone would be there for the occasion. I’d finally get to meet the hilarious guy behind the computer! (And hope that he wasn’t an axe murderer, especially since I had offered for him to stay at my apartment instead of getting a pricey hotel room.)

Adam and Laura Meet
Adam didn’t know I had mace clutched tightly in my right hand for protection while he took this selfie of us meeting.

After first meeting up with my best friend Mat for a drink close to home, I welcomed Adam to NYC with pizza and more wine at my favorite wine bar/flatbread pizza spot, followed by a stumble home past a Mexican place that had pumpkin margaritas… which of course became a stop in for said margaritas.

Blueberry and Pumpkin Margaritas at El Azteca
Margaritas = the best way to “carb load” and also ensure you “sleep soundly” the night before the race. Bonus health points for artificial colors and flavorings.

Adam kept pointing out to me my very own rule about needing to get the best sleep two nights before the marathon (which Friday night was), but I was having too much fun to really care. Running a marathon to achieve the fastest time possible is usually very different than running a marathon to have the most fun possible, and when it came down to it, I definitely wanted my 100th marathon to be more about the latter than the former. Besides, with no specific need for a wakeup time, I could sleep as late as I wanted, right?

Wrong – Adam and I finally said good night around midnight, but I woke up at 7am instead of sleeping longer. Oops! On the plus side, Adam ended up waking up not too long after, which meant that we could hit the expo almost right when it opened at 9am. We Citibiked down there, which worked out perfectly since there was a Citibike docking station literally right on the corner of the Javits Center where the expo was, and when we walked in at 9:20am, we were able to walk right into the expo without waiting in line at all. (It also helped that I had been forewarned not to bring a purse; I put my wallet/water bottle/etc in a plastic grocery bag to take it on the Citibike, then carried it in my hands into the expo and deposited it into my gear check bag as soon as I was inside.) When we eventually left the expo around 10:30am, the line to get was wrapped all the way around the block outside the center and then back and forth on itself multiple times. For future NYC Marathons (yes, spoiler: I’m not quitting marathoning yet), I will always plan to go first thing Saturday morning!

Adam and Laura at the Expo
Goofing around in front of one of the numerous photo op spots.

The expo was also really nice inside – it wasn’t packed with people yet, so we were able to quickly navigate the booths in order to eat as many free samples as possible learn about every vendor’s innovative products, all endorsed by Meb Keflezighi himself. Seriously – Adam and I had a running joke about Meb was apparently backing every single product no matter what. (Because I am so sure that Meb runs in Skechers and eats Grana Padano cheese as his pre-race meal.) But hey, if the cheese was good enough for Meb, it was good enough for me – and I proceeded to snarf down every sample offered to us. I really liked a lot of the chia seed products, and I was very intrigued by all the science behind the GenUCAN superstarch, which I’d love to try at some point. But most of all, I loved learning about all the international marathons that sent reps to recruit runners – there are so many amazing races I’d love to do! Part of what makes the NYC Marathon so incredible is how runners from all over the world come together, and the expo really highlighted that, both in the different languages heard rising from the din of the crowd and the variety of booths advertising marathons near and far.

After the expo, Adam and I took our Citibikes back uptown. This time, rather than going up ugly 11th Ave, we took the scenic route and headed out to bike along the Hudson River. Although we went a little bit out of our way to go out to the river, it actually ended up being faster than the direct route since we didn’t have any stoplights and could just cruise on the bike path. So pretty!

Citibiking From the Expo
Adam is ridiculously good at taking selfies – even while bike riding. (P.S. Mom, don’t worry – we were definitely wearing helmets at all times and only took them off for the photo. Or something.)

 After dropping our bikes off up the steep hill to 10th Ave (workout for the day = complete!), we headed for one of my favorite breakfast spots in the city – Le Pain Quotidien. Adam dove into a bowl of coffee (I was saving my first caffeinated glory for race day), while I loaded up on bread and nut butter (mmm, Brunette flavor!). But since we weren’t having breakfast until a super-late 10am, my eating schedule for the day before the race was definitely very weird. I had sampled plenty of snacks at the expo, so I wasn’t starving when we got to LPQ, but after eating such a late breakfast, I then wasn’t hungry for lunch – so I instead snacked on some baked goods that my mom brought from Albany when she arrived later that afternoon. I normally eat three square meals the day before a race, but today it seemed that my MO was snacking on any and all carbs that crossed my path. Different, though not really a bad thing!

When my mom arrived in NYC, though, the rest of the day went by in a flash. After getting my mom all settled in, I had to dash out the door pretty quickly. Amazingly, I had been contacted by a journalism student who wanted to make a short film about my 100th marathon – how awesome is that?! Before I headed out to my pre-race dinner, I met up with her to discuss logistics for the day and also talk through more of my background so she could figure out her story arc. Marika was incredibly nice and also really sharp – I was impressed by her can-do attitude and ability to get all the footage she needed while I was running around like crazy. I am so excited that my 100th marathon will get this kind of a record that I could look back on in years to come – I can’t wait to see the finished product later this week!

And to round out the night before the race? An amazing dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant in New York City (Trattoria Zero Otto Nove), with Adam, my mom, my roommate, my best friend Mat, and his girlfriend. We started with a round of flatbread pizzas for the table to share, and then I chose the spaghetti and meatballs for my entree. Although seemingly basic, the fresh pasta was cooked perfectly al dente, and the flavors were awesome. For my seemingly simple dish, they actually used goat cheese instead of the typical parmesan cheese, and it was so creamy and delicious. However, I have to admit that after stealing a bite of my mom’s mafalde con salsicca, I kind of wished I had gotten that – it was so smoky and delicious! I suppose that means I just have to go back again – which is certainly not a bad thing.

Zero Otto Nove Dinner

Finally, it was time to head home and finish my pre-race preparations. I couldn’t believe that my 100th marathon was already here… and even more unbelievably, I realized I was almost as nervous for it as I had been for my first. While I thought I had gotten all my fears out of the way the week before when I successfully finished my 99th marathon, I realized that I didn’t want to just start NYC as my 100th marathon; I wanted to finish it super strong too, and have an amazing day. My nerves manifested in the form of an all-out wardrobe freakout, when I saw a few people post on Twitter that they were planning to run in shorts and a tank top. Every weather site I checked indicated that temps would range from 43-49°F, which was only 1° warmer than the previous week’s race weather – when I had worn tights and a long sleeve turtleneck and felt super comfortable. What was I missing here?! Big thanks to both Jen and Blake who calmed me down and pointed out that after 99 marathons, it was silly to be second guessing myself and I shouldn’t worry about what anyone else was doing. (You would think I’d know what I’m doing, but you’d be surprised by how much I still screw up basics like that. My mind is a sieve!)

With the dawn of my 100th marathon day almost upon me (actually, by dawn, I’d have already been up for several hours – thank you, Daylight Savings Time!), I headed to bed. But I slept fitfully because I kept waking up in nervous excitement and anticipation of the race. Would my friends/family be able to spot me along the course? Would I somehow screw up something major? And would the day live up to all the hyped up expectations I had placed upon it? Guess I should have had a glass of wine at dinner to calm my nerves after all!

While you wait for the next part in my NYC Marathon race report series, go check out Adam’s full recap of the weekend – he’s a lot more succinct than I am, and also a lot funnier too.


3 thoughts on “Night Before the Race: New York City Marathon”

  1. Wait, mace in your hand!? I KNEW that wasn’t “really large lipstick” like you kept telling me!

    Looking back over the weekend before I can’t believe how NOT “three squares a day” we ate. Can’t wait to hear about the race!

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